With Toyota taking the wraps off the TS040 Hybrid, the new era of endurance racing has launched in Paul Ricard, as the Japanese manufacturer is set to be joined on the track by Audi and Porsche in the LMP1-H class for this weekend’s Prologue FIA WEC test. (En Français)
Toyota was the last to present its 2014 model but that doesn’t mean the program is running late. The car has already completed more than 11,000 miles of testing, with its conservative approach perhaps being an important asset.
With new-for-2014 regulations, all three LMP1-H manufacturers are in a waiting game as no one knows what will be the best solution. Audi has chosen 2MJ of energy capacity (per lap of Le Mans) while Toyota and Porsche have gone for 6 and 8MJ, respectively.
“Until last year, one hybrid system was efficient,” said Toyota Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon. “The arrival of the new rules allows us to have [one] more hybrid system.
“In 2013, we had 3 to 3.5MJ at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We now have a bigger engine, of 3.7 liters, knowing that we must deal with a fuel reduction of 25 percent.
“We thought the best compromise was to take the 6MJ option, but we could have had up to 8MJ. We will stay at 6MJ hybrid capacity throughout the season.”
Like its rivals, Toyota knows it will have to save as much fuel as possible and has entrusted its super-capacitor once again. “We believe this is the best solution,” Vasselon said.
One of the uncertainties, however, stems from the fuel flow meters, which has already caused issues in Formula One.
“Like everyone else, we had a few glitches with the flow meters,” Vasselon said. “What is certain is that we need this new regulation for the future of motorsport. It’s not easy but we are confident. We will also have to see how these new rules will react in traffic.
“With a given amount of energy, we can compare it to a GPS. If the driver does not follow the recommendations, the system recalculates it by itself to stay in the correct window.” In the case of an over-run, penalties are given.
While the Toyota TS030 Hybrid was able to produce 800 horsepower at one time, the TS040 Hybrid can go up to 1000 hp, but only for a period of three to five seconds.
“Compared to the Audi, we have shown that our hybrid system is good,” Vasselon said. “We must see how it will compare with Porsche. It’s interesting that the three manufacturers have taken three different approaches, but ultimately, the best should win.
“It’s really positive for the championship to have this. Toyota Racing is much better equipped than in the previous two years.”
Unlike last year, two cars will be present for the entire championship, even after Le Mans. While a third car for the 24-hour was under consideration, it was not in the budget.
The TS040 Hybrid will run in different aero configurations tomorrow.
The No. 7 car of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima will run in “high downforce” trim, while the No. 8 car of Nicolas Lapierre, Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi will be in Le Mans configuration.